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Flower villages still waiting for Tet buyers



Farmers in flower villages in HCM City are worried as merchants have not contacted them yet for Tet sale season.

Flower villages still waiting for Tet buyers

Anticipating lower demand, many farmers decided to reduce the growing area

In the middle of marigold beds, Trinh Thi Kim Lan, 47, in district 12, in HCM City was quickly pruning off branches under the hot sun. Lan said this year’s quality of flowers is good with beautiful flowers.

Thoi An flower village is one of the major flower providers to HCM City.

However, she still is worried that the flowers may not sell. No merchant has contacted her to discuss flower collections for Tet sale season.

By the same time last year, she had sold 70-80 percent of flowers in the garden.

“In previous years, merchants had come by this time to place orders. But no one has contacted us this year, and we made heavy investments in farming,” she complained.

Lan thinks that merchants are indifferent because of Covid-19. She fears that the pandemic has prompted people to tighten their purse strings and reduce expenses on flowers.

Anticipating lower demand, many farmers decided to reduce the growing area.

“I have had constant anxiety about sales since the eighth month of lunar year, when I started sowing seeds. However, I have been growing flowers for 20 years and cannot give it up,” she said.

“My growing area is smaller than in previous years. The investment rate is high, but I still don’t know if flowers will sell,” she complained.

Merchants are indifferent because of Covid-19. The pandemic has prompted people to tighten their purse strings and reduce expenses on flowers.

The households growing apricot flowers in Binh Loi village in Binh Chanh district are also having the same concern.

She said at this time last year, there usually are many cars queuing up to get apricot pots from her garden.

Visitors to Binh Loi apricot village may be surprised to see deserted fields next to the green apricot growing area. The owners of the fields have begun getting seeds from the flowers, preparing for incubation of seedlings for the next crop.

Hired workers also are worried because merchants have not come to collect flowers.

Doan Thi Cuc, 60, in district 12, who is working for Lan, complained that the worry about lack of sales has never been so high.

“I have never seen this situation before in my farming life. I think we have to bring flowers to market and Tet flower festivals to retail,” she complained.

In previous years, when flowers went for good prices, hired workers like Cuc had many things to do. They usually had to work until evening. But the demand for hired workers is low this year.

A woman pruning off braches in the village told reporters that garden owners don’t hire many workers. To cut costs, the owners take care of flowers themselves or use their relatives.

“In previous years, the income from the work at apricot gardens was high enough for me to spend on Tet holiday. But I don’t have many jobs this year, so this Tet will be more mediocre than the previous Tet,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lan affirmed that she still has to hire workers to take care of the gardens to be sure that flowers bloom in time and have high quality. Lan is now using six workers.

Nguyen Thi Phuong, 58, the owner of a flower garden in Thoi An, said she and her three children are taking care of flowers. But when there is too much work, she has to hire workers.

In previous years, he mostly hired local relatives and friends. But she now plans to use more people this year, especially those who have become jobless because of Covid-19.

Pham Van Nguyen, chair of the Farmers Association of Thoi An Ward, confirmed that farmers are worried that the pandemic will affect the purchasing power.

“Merchants are hesitant to place orders and store flowers,” he said. “The flower growing area has reduced by 50 percent compared with previous years.”

However, farmers still hope that their flowers will sell for Tet. 

Nguyen Son



Vietnam records five new COVID-19 cases on February 26 evening



Vietnam reported five new COVID-19 infections on February 26 evening, including four domestically-transmitted cases in Hai Duong and one imported case in Dong Thap province.

Vietnam records five new COVID-19 cases on February 26 evening hinh anh 1

Twenty-seven more COVID-19 patients in Hai Duong province have been give the all-clear from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (Photo: VNA)

The new infections brought the total number of patients in the country to 2,426, including 831 domestically-transmitted cases since new outbreaks hit Vietnam on January 27, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

By the afternoon of February 26, 10 provinces and cities, which had been previously struck by the latest outbreaks, had seen no new locally-transmitted cases for 14 days, including Hoa Binh, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Binh Duong, Hung Yen, Bac Giang, Gia Lai, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City.

The Subcommittee for Treatment reported that 35 more patients were declared to recover from the disease on February 26, raising the total number of recoveries to 1,839.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 was still kept at 35.

Among active patients undergoing treatment at medical establishments, 45 tested negative for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 once, 60 twice and 72 thrice.

As many as 76,495 people who had close contact with confirmed patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit region are being quarantined nationwide, including 580 in hospitals, 12,038 in concentrated quarantine establishments and the remaining 63,877 at their residences./. VNA


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Vietnam enters second phase of Covid-19 vaccine trials



Vietnam enters second phase of Covid-19 vaccine trials

A man in Long An Province is injected with Nanocovax, a Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine, as part of the second phase of its human trials, February 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Vietnam began the second phase of domestic Covid-19 vaccine human trials Friday with 73 volunteers.

Thirty-five volunteers in Hanoi and 38 in southern Long An Province were divided into four groups for the second phase of human trials of Nanocovax, a Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC.

Groups would be injected with placebos, as well as 25 microgram, 50 microgram and 75 microgram doses each. Volunteers would not know which type of shot they received.

Following their shots, all volunteers would be monitored for 60 minutes. Afterwards, they would be medically monitored by local authorities at home.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam visited the site Friday morning, saying Vietnam is doing its best to hasten progress for a Covid-19 vaccine while still ensuring the process adheres to the highest standards.

Nhu, 36 and a teacher, was one of the first Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteers during the first phase commenced last year. She said her health so far has been very good, and she has formed a Facebook group to counsel those who wish to participate in the trial’s second phase.

Nhu participated in the second phase Friday too.

“I’m the evidence to prove the success of the trial vaccine, and I’m very proud,” she said.

Dan, 63, said she had known of the vaccine trials weeks ago. After much consideration, she signed up to participate in the second phase.

“At my age, there could be risks and complications if I’m infected. As such, I want to take active care of my health and joined this phase of vaccine trials,” she said, adding she would recommend her neighbors as well.

Another 52-year-old man in Long An said he had “absolute trust” in the Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine. He had arrived at the injection site at 7 a.m. for his shot.

“I’m not worried at all; instead I feel happy and proud to contribute to our medical field,” he said.

A total 560 people in Hanoi and Long An would be involved in the second phase of the Nanocovax human trials, in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University and HCMC Pasteur Institute. Nearly 200 people in Hanoi had been screened as vaccine trial volunteers Wednesday and Thursday, with 100 more screened Friday.

The first phase, which commenced last December with 60 volunteers, revealed Nanocovax to be safe, immunogenic and causing no severe side effects, said Do Quyet, director of Vietnam Military Medical University. Preliminary results also showed antibodies produced by Nanocovax had an effect on a coronavirus variant originating from the U.K., which is up to 70 percent more transmissible than ordinary strains, he added.

The second phase would allow researchers to see how exactly immunogenic Nanocovax is. Volunteers for the second phase could now include those aged 65 and above, along with those with underlying, non-severe conditions like hypertension and diabetes, according to the National Research Ethics Committee.

Preliminary results for the second phase should be expected within May, said Quyet. Afterwards, the Ethics Committee and the Ministry of Health would determine the most optimal doses for the third phase.

“If everything goes well, preparations for the third phase could begin by May. In this phase, the number of volunteers could reach between 10,000-15,000,” said Quyet.

As of Wednesday, Vietnam has recorded 2,421 Covid-19 cases, with 578 still active.


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Ministry asked to approve US, Russian COVID-19 vaccines



Vaccination will start in early March, and 1.2 million more doses may be added to the programme in late March.

The Advisory Council for the Registration of Circulation of Drugs and Medicinal Ingredients under the Ministry of Health (MoH) has proposed that the Health Ministry approve the use of COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna Company of the US and JSC Generium Company of Russia, for urgent use in Vietnam.

Previously, in early February, the MoH officially approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine of the UK.

The first vaccine batch, comprising 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, arrived in Vietnam on February 24. The first to receive vaccine shots will be priority groups, including health workers, forces participating in COVID-19 prevention and control activities; diplomats, customs and immigration officers; army and police forces; teachers; people over 65 years old; those providing essential services in the fields of aviation, transportation, tourism, electricity and water services; people with chronic diseases; those wishing to go to work and study abroad; and residents in pandemic-hit areas in line with epidemiological indications.

Vaccination will start in early March, and 1.2 million more doses may be added to the programme in late March.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the ministry will secure 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from different sources in 2021.

The MoH is making every effort to carry out the vaccination drive, which is the biggest ever in the country, towards ensuring the schedule and coverage of the programme, Long stressed.

Regarding domestic production of vaccine, the minister said all relevant stages are going as schedule.

Vietnam expects to produce vaccines by 2022, he added./.VNA


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